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A repository of random thoughts, odds and ends, and not-quite-fully-formed ideas.

Archive for July, 2008

Watch Obama’s note get filched


Here’s “videotape”:http://www.abcnews.go.com/ on the ABC News Web site of Barack Obama’s prayer being lifted from the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

The piece of paper was taken from the crevice after Obama walked away. Its contents were published by the daily newspaper Maariv, sparking an uproar over the intrusion into his relationship with God.


“Lord — Protect my family and me,” the unsigned note said. “Forgive me my sins, and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will.”

It was written on stationery from the King David Hotel.

The video comes from David Cohen and CoVisionsProductions@yahoo.com. Cohen is the brother of The Journal News’ Shawn Cohen.


Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, July 31st, 2008 at 2:40 pm |
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Say again


Here’s Bob Hope on politics. It’s funny, wherever you stand.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/RWpU8sX10_4" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Tuesday, July 29th, 2008 at 12:07 pm |

Competing in the Transplant Games


Earlier this year, I wrote about Julianne Culhane, who had just finished Pace University Law School, was studying for the bar exam, looking for a job and living with lupus.

After she got sick while she was in college, her kidneys failed and she needed a transplant.

This month, Culhane competed in the U.S. Transplant Games sponsored by the National Kidney Foundation. They were held in Pittsburgh.

Culhane won gold and silver in the swimming competitions. She got gold in the 50-yard backstroke and silver in the 50-yard freestyle,

Last summer, she swam in the 16th World Transplant Games in Bangkok. There she won a gold medal and a bronze in the 50-meter backstroke and the 50-meter butterfly.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, July 28th, 2008 at 5:56 pm |
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Bobby Jindal as VP?


Apparently not. The Louisiana governor told Fox News he was NOT interested in running as John McCain’s number two.

“Let me be clear: I have said in every private and public conversation, I’ve got the job that I want. And I’ll say again on air: I’m not going to be the vice presidential nominee or vice president. I’m going to help Senator McCain get elected, as governor of Louisiana,” Jindal said.

“I look forward to continuing to be governor of Louisiana. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to improve our state. We’ve cut six taxes but we’ve got a lot more work to do right here in Louisiana….I’ve never talked to the senator about the vice presidency or his thoughts on selecting the vice president.”

A colleague and I thought otherwise — especially when we saw his photos on McCain’s Web site. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted.

So who will it be? Here are picks from readers: Mitt Romney and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

NOTE: Name corrected in the headline

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Friday, July 25th, 2008 at 9:33 am |

Say goodbye to your lawn — or part of it


If you’re tired of mowing your lawn, the Humane Society has some tips. You get to put away the lawnmower — or at least mow a smaller area — wildlife gets a friendly alternative.
Of course this assumes that you want a smaller lawn, and don’t mind having wildlife around.
Here are the tips:
Plants beds of native nectar, berry and seed-producing plants favored by wildlife
Create a meadow on a portion of your property
Install a small pond or some other water feature.
Build shelter for wildlife, such as brush or rock piles in a corner of your yard

Here’s a photo by Bill Cary, who writes The Journal News’ In the Garden blog, of wildflowers at the Butterfly Garden in Lenoir Preserve in Yonkers.


The easiest way to create a natural landscape, according to the Humane Society, is simply to stop mowing it and let native plants gradually take over. Start by limiting your no-mow zones to the corners or less-trafficked areas. Continue to mow around them to create a neat island look — presumably so that your neighbors won’t complain.

Another easy approach is to extend the size of existing beds when edging them – even an inch or two a year is a contribution.
And you may end up with fewer Canada geese.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, July 24th, 2008 at 1:04 pm |
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McCain to meet with Jindal


The other day my colleague, Swapna Venugopal, noticed Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s photos on Sen. John McCain’s Web site. Was this a hint? we wondered.


Today The Washington Post’s blog, “The Fix,”:http://blog.washingtonpost.com/thefix/ by Chris Cillizza had this:

McCain To Meet With Jindal

John McCain will huddle with vice presidential aspirant Bobby Jindal during a trip to New Orleans later this week, sources close to the campaign confirm to The Fix.

VP Watch

McCain’s trip to Louisiana on Wednesday was the cause of much head scratching in the political world as it was not in keeping with a week of planned stops in battleground states.

But, the meeting with Jindal, who has been the state’s governor since 2007, suggests that McCain himself is deeply engaged in the process of picking his second-in-command and that the youthful Jindal is under serious consideration.

PHOTO: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008 at 4:56 pm |


Withdrawing troops from Iraq


Today, I wrote about Barack Obama’s trip to Afghanistan and Iraq and mentioned the flap over Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel in which he agreed with Obama’s timetable for withdrawing American troops.

Asked when the troops should leave, al Maliki responded:

“As soon as possible, as far as we’re concerned. U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes.”

Was he endorsing Obama? he was asked.

“Those who operate on the premise of short time periods in Iraq today are being more realistic. Artificially prolonging the tenure of U.S. troops in Iraq would cause problems. Of course, this is by no means an election endorsement. Who they choose as their president is the Americans’ business. But it’s the business of Iraqis to say what they want.”


Afterward a spokesman for al Maliki, in a statement distributed by the American military, tried to say the prime minister’s comments had been mistranslated.

But, according to The New York Times, it turns that the translator was al Maliki’s own. And the Times was given a tape of the interview and translated it independently. Al Maliki indeed said 16 months.

After a meeting between Obama and al Maliki on Monday, the same spokesman, Ali al Dabbagh, said, according to Reuters:

“We cannot give any timetables or dates but the Iraqi government believes the end of 2010 is the appropriate time for the withdrawal.”

Obama first visited Iraq in 2006.

PHOTO: In this photo released by the U.S. army, U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama, left, top U.S. military commander in Iraq, David Petraeus, center, and U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel, R-Neb, ride inside a helicopter in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, July 21, 2008. Iraq’s government welcomed Obama on Monday with a message of apparent common ground on American troop withdrawal goals: expressing hopes that combat forces could leave by 2010. (AP Photo/Ssg. Lorie Jewell, HO)

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, July 21st, 2008 at 2:22 pm |

Lebanese react to prisoner exchange


Two years ago, when Israel invaded Lebanon, I wrote about the exchanges across the border via blogs.

This week, when the bodies of the two Israeli soldiers were exchanged for Samir Kuntar and other prisoners, I thought I would check back with one of the Lebanese bloggers. What did Charles Malik think of what had taken place?
Here’s what part of what he wrote. (Qantar is variation of Kuntar, the way the Arabic name has been spelled in the American media):

“Regarding Samir Qantar, the crime is evident. Qantar killed Israeli government personnel and civilians during a raid in the middle of a war. However, he also killed a four year old girl by smashing a rock into her head. There is no excuse on Earth to justify that action, and there is no way that I can ever say that this man is a hero. Any man willing to smash in the head of a 4 year old child with a rock should remain in prison for the rest of his life.

My disgust has no words… My tears…”

You can find more of his posting, and comments from Lebanese and Israelis, “here.”:http://lebop.blogspot.com/2008/07/lebanese-reactions-to-qantars-release.html

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Friday, July 18th, 2008 at 11:08 pm |

Where’s Romney?


Take a look at John McCain’s Web site.

There is he pictured with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

And there he is again with Jindal.

As my colleague Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy noticed, Jindal is the only politician reportedly on one vice presidential short-list to get photographs on Web site. They are in the photo gallery in the About section.

Jindal was one of three men who met with McCain for a weekend barbecue in May. The others were Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — and I don’t see either of them on the site. Do you?

Is this a hint?

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, July 17th, 2008 at 2:44 pm |


Picturing Barack Obama


Adding to the notion that Sen. Barack Obama burst onto the political scene, he is already the subject of a coffee-table book.”

The Rise of Barack Obama” is 150 pages of quite remarkable photographs by former White House photographer Pete Souza that show Obama in private and public moments.


Souza captures Obama opening Nelson Mandela’s former prison cell in South Africa and Obama conferring with Sen. John McCain on the immigration bill and such behind-the-scene snaps as Obama and his wife, Michelle, waiting to be introduced at Iowa State University.

Souza was an official photographer for President Ronald Reagan and is now an assistant professor of photojournalism at Ohio University. He is the author of two photographic books on Reagan’s term in office: “Unguarded Moments: Behind-the -Scenes Photographs of President Reagan” (1992) and “Images of Greatness: An Intimate Look at the Presidency of Ronald Reagan (2004).


Souza began with Obama’s first day in the U.S. Senate and continued on to the campaign trail before the spring primaries. He accompanied him to seven countries, including Kenya, South Africa and Russia.


“Early into that first year, I began to believe that I was photographing a future president of the United States, and that my pictures might become a historic look at the rise of Sen. Obama’s political career,” Souza wrote in his introduction. “That may sound like an easy statement to make now, but that’s really how I felt at the time.”


Which photo(s) provided the most surprising result and why? Souza was asked in material distributed by his publisher, Triumph Books.

“One of the things that has been fascinating for me to observe during the last three years is how other people react to Obama. Early on, there was this curiosity, where people had heard so much about him but were now checking him out to see if he was for real. You can see that in their faces.

“Then, in Africa, the response to him was overwhelming. He gave a speech in Nairobi, and they couldn’t fit everyone inside the auditorium. So they set up these loudspeakers outside, and I decided to stay outside to photograph the people that were listening to the speech on these loudspeakers. There were hundreds gathered and you could have heard a pin drop. Everyone was listening in rapt attention. One man took notes on his hand in blue ink.”

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, July 17th, 2008 at 1:18 pm |

About the author
Noreen O'DonnellNoreen O'Donnell For the last 20 years, Noreen O'Donnell has written about Hillary Clinton's run for the Senate, rebuilding Ground Zero, the Korean immigrants who travel north each day from Queens to work in nail salons, deadly runaway fire trucks and other stories in Westchester and Putnam counties. Now she's a columnist.

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